HELSINKI – New smartphone app warns of potential corona exposure

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) launched on Monday a free coronavirus tracing app called Koronavilkku (corona flash in English).

In the hope of breaking infection chains, the app finds out whether users may have been exposed to the virus.

When the phones of app users come into close contact, a generated code will be sent to the users via a Bluetooth signal. If close contact is made with someone who reported their infection, an alert of potential exposure is sent to the app.

For those diagnosed with the virus, health services will send the patient a key code that can be keyed into the app so that other app users who come in close contact are alerted.

Location data of app users are collected from users who are within the phone’s proximity for at least 15 minutes. The information stored in phones is promised to remain anonymous, before being automatically deleted after 21 days, and user identity and location is not saved.

Launched at first in Finnish and Swedish, and available in the App Store and on Google Play, the app will be available in English by autumn. With close to 84% of Finland’s population having a smartphone, the Koronavilkku app is expected to be widely downloaded.

(Pekka Vänttinen | EURACTIV.com)

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